Food prices been on the rise across the United States, forcing many food and beverage companies to reduce the content size for their products, as part of a concept called “shrinkflation.”
The United States is currently facing its worst inflation rates since 1982, with confirmed cases of product shrinkage at grocery stores becoming common nationwide.
Last week’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed prices increasing 7.9 percent in the last 12 months, with an increase of 0.8 percent in February alone since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Rising food prices account for much of the inflation, with grocery prices rising 8.6 percent from levels seen in 2021.
The economic phenomenon called “shrinkflation,” has been around in past times of inflation, when companies facing higher prices for their products, pass it onto the consumer by downsizing content to reduce costs.
Consumers may not realize they are paying more for some of their regular purchases, since companies reduce content sizes while keeping prices the same.
Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, will be putting five fewer chips in a bag of Doritos due to inflation, said a company spokesperson on March 10.
Bags of Frito-Lay brand chips will go from a 9.75 oz. bag to a 9.25 oz. bag to keep prices at the same rate.
The snack food company company is expected to save upwards of $250,000 for every 1 million bags of chips.
Mondalez, which produces Nabisco’s Wheat Thins, confirmed that a family-size box had gone from 16 ounces to 14 ounces—around 28 fewer crackers.
Redesigned packaging can be subtly used by companies to help mask other changes to a product.
“Basically, we redesigned the bottle. It’s more aerodynamic and it’s easier to grab,” a PepsiCo spokesperson told Quartz. PepsiCo produces Gatorade.
“The redesign generates a new cost and the bottles are a little bit more expensive … this is only a matter of design.”
Other notable brands known to be shrinking their products in recent months include Charmin, Bounty, Crest, Quaker, Ziploc, and Dial.
Dial liquid body wash saw its bottle size decrease from 21 to 16 fluid ounces in 2021, a decrease of nearly 25 percent, while Ziploc reduced its 54-bag package to 50.
Quaker’s instant oatmeal is doing away with twenty percent of its pouches, reducing serving size to eight from ten, but keeping the box size nearly identical.
Inflation under the Biden administration had been skyrocketing, even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused energy prices to surge, which has trickled down to transportation costs.
Oil prices have surged in the wake of the invasion, while the price of key minerals, fertilizer, and grain have hit historic highs.
Experts believe that the severity of the situation will likely worsen as inflation rates continue to rise.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last week that economic uncertainty driven by the conflict in Ukraine means that Americans should brace for “uncomfortably high” inflation throughout the year.
Meanwhile, consumer confidence has fallen for the third month in a row, with sentiment dropping to its lowest level in nearly 11 years, according to the University of Michigan’s latest consumer sentiment survey.